After shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer told the Labour Conference yesterday “Conference, it’s right that Parliament has the first say … but if we need to break the impasse, our options must include campaigning for a public vote, and nobody is ruling out Remain as an option” [my emphasis], we soon saw why Labour has kept its options open on the Brexit and referendum argument.
Nobody within that party needed to explain this: instead, as always, their job was done for them by the Tories, who immediately latched on to the wide-ranging nature of the composite motion put before Conference to claim that Labour was now backing Remain (not true) and that the party was in favour of a second referendum (also not true). What is true is that both options would remain in play under Labour.
But that is too taxing for The Blue Team, and so, almost as soon as Starmer had spoken, the Tories’ Twitter feed told anyone listening “Labour have confirmed that they would take us back to square one on Brexit. @Keir_Starmer just told #Lab2018: ‘Nobody is ruling out Remain as an option’”. The new catchy Labour-bashing soudbite is “Back to Square One”.
This was echoed by party chairman Brandon “Barrow Boy” Lewis, who obediently echoed the view from HQ. “CONFIRMED: At #Lab2018 Shadow Brexit Secretary @Keir_Starmer has just said ‘nobody is ruling out remain as an option’. Labour would take us back to square one on Brexit.” It’s Back To Square One! Wow! Zap! Dull!
But what did that mean? No, don’t ask, it means something Very Bad and you the voters shouldn’t ask difficult questions. Off went Lewis once more. “Last week @theresa_may made it clear the Conservatives will not overturn the result of the referendum. This latest Labour position is a clear disrespect to the result”. Disrespect!
And in case the message had not been rapturously enough received, back he came once more. “In the space of one morning @Keir_Starmer has refused to rule out delaying Brexit, refused to confirm Labour would end freedom of movement, and opened the door to staying in the EU with a second referendum. Labour’s [sic] would take us back to square one on Brexit”. Back To Square One! Disrespect! Vote Tory!
But then a thought enters: what if going “Back to Square One” is what the majority of the electorate wants? Where would the Tories be then? Has CCHQ really gamed this one before they and Lewis decided to shoot their mouths off?
Squeaky backfired finger up the bum time
Those questions are asked with good reason: when former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage polled followers via his Leave Means Leave Facebook page on the subject of another referendum, the result was not what he might have expected. “IF THE UK WERE TO DECIDE TO HOLD A SECOND REFERENDUM ON OUR MEMBERSHIP OF THE EU. HOW WOULD YOU VOTE NOW KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW?”
There’s the question. And the answer is that 61% of the 755,000 respondents would vote to Remain. In other words, going Back to Square One might be increasingly popular.
Be careful what you wish for, Tory people. You might just make it happen.
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